it has been a rocky session for the dollar which has dumped to a 4-week low, dragging with it USDJPY, the Nikkei and Treasury yields - and to a lesser extend US equity futures - all of which have slumped in the Japanese am session, following a WSJ report that Robert Mueller’s team "caught the Trump campaign by surprise" in mid-October by issuing a document subpoena to more than a dozen top officials.
The campaign had previously been voluntarily complying with the special counsel’s requests for information, and had been sharing with Mr. Mueller’s team the documents it provided to congressional committees as part of their probes of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. The Trump campaign is providing documents in response to the subpoena on an “ongoing” basis, the person said.
If confirmed, this would be the first time Trump’s campaign has been ordered to turn over information to Mueller’s investigation, even if subpoena has not - for now - compelled any officials to testify before Mueller’s grand jury.
According to Citi, and a handful of other desks,the news of the report is what initially sent the USDJPY below 113, at which point stop loss selling accelerated and has seen the pair tumble to 112.50 at last check.
While it took the other major currencies a while to catch on, the dollar eventually did selloff across the board, with cable and EUR leading the AUD and kiwi. Meanwhile, the Korean won has surged, sending the USDKRW below 1,100, ignoring the latest jawboning and verbal intervention from Korean central bankers.
Still, not everyone is convinced and Citi for one, thinks the sell-off in US assets has been exaggerated due to diminished liquidity conditions and stop runs, especially since the news that Mueller issued a subpoena "doesn't really have any implications for markets."
Others, such as Westpac's FX strategist Sean Callow, agree: “USD/JPY’s apparent fatigue is consistent with a speculative market already very short yen”he said, adding that “USD/JPY seems to have already factored in not only a Fed hike in December but some form of tax cut package as well.”
Furthermore, while the subpoena news may seem surprising, Citi's Ding notes that "we already know that the investigation is ongoing and links between Russia and the Trump campaign are under scrutiny", in other words the WSJ report was to be expected, even if the market appears to be overplaying it for the time being.
In any case, at least for now the mood is one of risk off, and in addition to the dollar, Nikkei, yields and US futures all heavy, Chinese stocks are also down with the Shanghai Comp -0.7% lower, although that may be more a function of the sharp reversal in PBOC liquidity injections, because after yesterday's gargantuan 310Bn net reverse repo - and 810Bn net this week - today's 10Bn liquidity drain once again prompted fears that the PBOC just may be serious about the deleveraging after all.